Come, sir, your passado - I am hurt - A plague o’ both your houses!
Ay, ay a scratch, a scratch - Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man
A plague o’ both your houses - Why the devil came you between us?
A plague o’ both your houses
The memories flooded back one by one until he remembered everything: the fight, the injury, the betrayal. Mercutio remembered it all.
He didn’t know how long he’d been here, or exactly where here was, for that matter, but he understood to some extent that living beings couldn’t access this place. Fog covered every inch of the black area, and try as he might, Mercutio could find no end to the eternal darkness.
To Mercutio, it felt like centuries ago that he had awoken in this place. His once blue eyes had lost the light color they had once had, and his dark hair was askew. As for his clothes, they were those that he had been murdered in. He tried not to think about that too much.
For a time, Mercutio ran, looking and praying for the obscurity to disappear and for a light to shine, but the light never came. He didn’t ever grow tired; it wasn’t like he’d need to rest or breathe again.
He was dead, of this he was certain. However, this wasn’t Heaven. This wasn’t the goodness after death, of which he had thought was promised to him. So, was this hell then? Was he doomed to this fate for eternity?
Mercutio clawed at himself, tearing through clothing, trying to feel something, anything. There was nothing. It was as if his mind were here, but no physical being could be harmed. He’d much rather take a hundred blows than this. He wasn’t even sure if he was still sane, or if he’d crossed that line already.
Mercutio had thought himself a man above begging, but his dignity meant little to him now. Overpowered by thoughts of the moments leading up to his death, Mercutio screamed to anyone that would listen. He screamed and screamed, cursing Tybalt, cursing Romeo, and most of all, cursing the family feud that had led to his death. His screams met no prevail, and Mercutio was sure that no one would ever come for him. So Mercutio was left sitting alone, filling with more and more hate with every passing moment.
As Mercutio sobbed, a creature slowly appeared as if from thin air. Something had heard Mercutio’s cries. With silent steps, the creature walked up behind Mercutio, and feeling the sudden change around him, Mercutio quickly spun around and leapt up at the sight of the creature. Its skin was wrinkled, not only showing its age, but also its unearthliness. The creature also wore a long, dark cloak, and had deep black eyes that seemed to be able to stare into one’s soul.
“Who are you?” Mercutio asked with a slight quiver to his voice. The Figure merely tilted its head in curiosity, offering no reply. The being’s dark eyes scanned up and down Mercutio and then scanned again. Mercutio knew that he looked like a terrible weeping mess, but he stood his ground, not showing even a flicker of weakness. “I said, who are you?” Mercutio repeated, tone demanding an answer.
Something like amusement flashed in the creature’s eyes, and maybe a hint of a challenge. It would tell this boy its title in its own time, but the Figure had more crucial matters to attend to with Mercutio. “My name is of no meaning at this time, Mercutio.” the Figure spoke. “However, if all goes well, I will reveal it to you if you are to succeed in this little… meeting.”
The creature’s voice was hoarse as if it hadn’t spoken in a long time, and Mercutio was barely able to refrain from shuddering at the creature’s words. What could this thing possibly want?
“It comes to my understanding that you’ve been here for quite a long time, yes?” the creature asked.
“Yes,” Mercutio answered simply, tensing slightly at the Figure’s formality.
The creature nodded as if it’d known this all along. It asked another question, “Do you know what this place is, Mercutio?”
“No,” Mercutio answered.
The creature looked on, knowingly, silent only for a few moments, “You’re a lost soul, Mercutio,” it then said. “So overcome with hatred, you are, that this darkness has prevented you from seeing the light. Something has filled you with so much rage that you are tethered to the world of the living, unable to completely pass over.”
Mercutio was shocked, but the Figure pressed on, “Should you wish to at last be rid of this darkness, you must be rid of your antipathy.” Giving Mercutio a moment to process what it’d said, the Figure watched silently before speaking again. “Now tell me, Mercutio Montague, what drives your hate?” the Figure finally asked.
At this, Mercutio’s eyes narrowed drastically. “Tybalt, the feud, but most of all,” Mercutio began, voice rising. “Romeo.”
“Go on,” the Figure pressed. “Why do you blame Romeo?”
“He betrayed me. I am dead because of him,” Mercutio spat out. “Because he couldn’t get up and fight like a man, I will never draw breath again. Because that coward refused to draw his sword, I will never do anything again. I died under Romeo’s arm, and for that, I especially hate the man.”
The Figure had listened thoughtfully to what Mercutio said, not missing a word. “You can move on,” it then spoke reassuringly.
“Never,” Mercutio spat.
Ignoring him, the Figure continued, “Romeo was your friend, shouldn’t he be forgiven? He had his reasons for not drawing his sword, and as you do, he had his hardships. While you think you died unjustly, Romeo paid for his actions.”
Mercutio read into the Figure’s implications. “You speak from knowledge,” Mercutio realized. “What happened after I passed?”
So, the Figure then told the story of Romeo and Juliet, starting from the very beginning. It told of their meeting, and how their love developed, then of their marriage. Mercutio listened, not once interrupting. And as the Figure then spoke of the fight with Tybalt, Mercutio realized everything had been a misunderstanding. Coming to an end, the Figure told how Romeo and Juliet had died for each other, loving one another so deeply.
“With their death, came the end of the family feud,” the creature ended. “At the cost of their children’s lives, the house of the Capulets and the house of the Montagues then made amends.”
Mercutio closed his eyes, processing all that the Figure had said. Romeo and his love had ended the feud but at the cost of their lives. Romeo, Mercutio’s best friend, is dead.
Mercutio was surprised to be feeling sorrowful in response to Romeo's death. After all, his passing was at Romeo’s fault. Had he known of Romeo’s death before the cloaked Figure arrived, he knew that he would have felt grateful that justice had been met for his death. However, Mercutio felt no such justice. The families’ feud had cost Mercutio his life, but Romeo both his lover and his own life. If the Figure was right in saying that Romeo had died for his Juliet, then their love must have been pure, should they die for each other. Although his death was grim, Mercutio thought Romeo’s and Juliet’s to be a tragedy. It was one thing to lose one’s own life, but to lose that of one’s love… Romeo’s death was of passion, and that passion had ended the feud. No greater justice could have been met.
“Your friend and his lover are the reason the feud has ended.” The Figure repeated. “You meant a lot to Romeo. I’m sure your friendship was also in his mind as he lay to rest.”
“I can’t believe he’d do all that,” Mercutio said to himself, his eyes still closed.
“Romeo was brave in acts of the heart, as were you. However, those heartfelt matters were different. Your actions were out of honor, while his were out of love. Regardless, both of you played a part in the ending of the feud, and if there is any good that comes out of your deaths, it is the fact that no more blood shall be shed out of violence between the two families.”
Mercutio opened his eyes taking a few moments to calm his mind, and then spoke, ”I think I understand now.” Mercutio found himself to be grateful for the Figure’s words and stability. Had the creature not told him this story, he would have gone on hating his friend for who knows how long.
“Good.” the Figure said, allowing the crinkles in its face to slightly turn upward in a proud smile. He had succeeded in his task.
In response to the Figure’s words, Mercutio let go.
The darkness began to slowly clear away, opening to light shining down upon an open sky filled with clouds. “What’s happening?” asked Mercutio.
“You’re forgiving.” the Figure answered simply.
Mercutio held his arm slightly above his head to protect himself from the blinding light, still glowing brighter. Then suddenly, everything stopped.
Mercutio’s eyes finally adjusted to the bright light, and he found himself standing on a cloud. He looked behind him to find the Figure standing a short way away from him, and smiling reassuringly. “You made it,” it said.
Mercutio was suddenly overcome with exhaustion. Not able to stand for much longer, he lay on the cloud, straining to remain conscious. The Figure, sensing that the time for his leave was coming near, spoke one last time to Mercutio, keeping its promise. “My name is Grim. Grim Reaper,” it said.
Mercutio had felt that he’d known all along who the figure was. It seemed fitting that the creature who had brought him to the darkness should get him out as well, and for that, Mercutio was grateful.
Name now known, the Grim Reaper began walking away as Mercutio batted his eyelids in his last moments of consciousness. “Thank you,” he spoke, barely a whisper.
The Grim Reaper stopped. Turning to see him one last time, the Grim Reaper found Mercutio peacefully sleeping, finally at rest.
Author Notes: I wrote this story for a class project related to Romeo and Juliet. Our prompt was to write about a character's problem and resolve it as though that character were speaking to a counselor. However, I decided to make a problem rather than follow the given prompt so that there would be a more creative aspect to what I wrote. I hope you enjoy the outcome!!!